Whether you’re looking to make an online purchase or send money to your kids while they’re away from home, cash isn’t always king. Sometimes, it’s faster and safer to send or receive money through a mobile app or online platform. These can make it easy to send secured funds directly to the recipient, sometimes in mere seconds.
Here’s a look at our top picks for the best apps to receive and send money in the U.S. and across the world, and why you might choose each one.
Best money transfer apps compared 2023
Flexibility and purchase protection
From free to 5%, depending on transfer type
Up to $60,000 per transaction for verified accounts
Savings and investment features
Up to $1,000 per 30-day period for unverified accounts, may be higher for verified users
Spending (and splitting) abroad
Varies by transaction details
Send up to $50,000 per transaction
Varies by transaction amount, currency, and delivery method
Send up to $2,999 daily, $10,000 monthly, or up to $18,000 over a six-month period
Varies by transaction amount, currency, and delivery method
Up to $10,000 per online transaction, up to $10,000 per 30-day period; higher limits may be available in store
Up to $5,000 per transfer to your bank, up to $10,000 per week into your Venmo account
Instant transfers between banks
Daily and rolling monthly limits vary by financial institution
Varies by transaction amount, currency, and delivery method
Up to $50,000 per transaction once verified
Our recommendations for the best apps to receive and send money
Best for flexibility and purchase protection: PayPal
- Send money to others, make online payments, or complete merchant transactions.
- Dispute resolution and protection included on purchases at no additional charge to buyers.
- International transactions and transfers allowed with currency conversion.
- Fees are charged when sending money to friends or family with a debit/credit card.
- No option for cash withdrawal.
- Bank transfers and withdrawals can take multiple days to process.
PayPal is the first—and one of the most well-known—names in online payments, with more than 435 million active consumer and merchant accounts. This platform allows for protected transactions between businesses and customers, as well as the ability to send money between individuals. To date, PayPal has helped facilitate over $1.36 trillion in payment transactions across more than 200 markets worldwide.
With PayPal, you can send money from almost anywhere in the world using your bank account, debit or credit card, or an existing PayPal account balance. You can also make purchases with built-in consumer protections, at no additional cost to you.
There is no fee to send money to friends and family when you use your bank account, PayPal balance, or Amex Send account—nor do you pay extra for goods and services covered by Purchase Protection. If you use a debit or credit card to send money to friends and family, you’ll be charged 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
Businesses or individuals using PayPal to receive funds for goods and services will pay a fee per transaction plus a percentage of the funds received, depending on the transaction type and amount. Both consumers and merchants are covered by Purchase Protection for these eligible transactions, with PayPal offering dispute resolution and reimbursement if a covered issue arises.
Best for savings and investment features: Cash App
- Funds can be directed into a connected bank account or optional Cash Card debit card.
- Cash deposits allowed through participating retailers.
- Direct deposit customers may receive paychecks up to two days early.
- Funds can take multiple days to arrive in connected bank accounts.
- Instant transfer withdrawals require paying a fee.
While not the longest-standing option, Cash App does get bragging rights for being the top-rated payment platform in the Apple App Store.
Cash App is available to users aged 13 and up, allowing individuals a free option for sending and receiving money quickly, including in the UK or EU. While deposits can sometimes take a few days to arrive, many payments are deposited into a connected bank account immediately. You can send money to others through a connected bank account or you can make cash deposits into your Cash App at select retailers.
Users don’t have to send cash through Cash App, though; you can also send or receive stocks and even bitcoin on the platform. If you choose to bank through Cash App, you can easily manage your Cash Card from your phone’s app with no monthly fees or overdraft penalties, and you get access to your paycheck as soon as two days early when you set up direct deposit.
Best for international transfers: MoneyGram
- Services available worldwide and in most currencies.
- User-friendly app offers upfront fees and transfer times.
- Fees are charged on domestic and international transfers.
- While some transfers are instant, others may take multiple days to complete.
Whether you need to send money across the state or across the world, MoneyGram makes it easy and safe to transfer cash online, through a mobile app, or in-person at various retailers. While there are fees involved with a MoneyGram transfer, the service is considered very user-friendly and allows for the simple movement of cash even with currency conversion.
Funds can be sent 24/7 using a debit card, credit card,or online bank account—or even using cash at a participating location. The fees you’ll incur depend on how much money you’re sending, where it’s going, and how you’re funding the transaction. For many international transfers, fees start as low as $1.99. The money could be available to your recipient in just a couple of minutes or within a few business days.
Best for spending (and splitting) abroad: Revolut
- Optional Revolut prepaid card allows for purchases and transfers of received funds.
- Complimentary membership option available.
- Over 55,000 in-network ATMs.
- Only offered in select countries and currencies.
- Not as popular as many other money transfer apps.
- Depending on users’ needs, memberships may cost as much as $16.99 per month.
Similar to Venmo and Cash App, Revolut is a mobile money transfer app that makes it easy to split bills, send money, and receive funds from others in just seconds, in as many as 25+ fiat currencies. With your unique username, you can request money from others or collect payments even from those not on the app. You’ll even get a physical or virtual Revolut card that can be used to transfer funds and make protected purchases online.
Monthly subscriptions range from $0.00 to $16.99 per month, depending on your needs. All options allow you to transfer money internationally with low fees, create and follow a budget, and even make withdrawals at over 55,000 in-network ATMs without incurring fees.
Best for Home Delivery: Remitly
- Many options offered for receiving funds, including home cash delivery in some areas.
- Upfront fees and multiple funding options.
- Only available in select countries.
- Domestic and international transfers are fee-based.
Remitly is an international money transfer platform that enables you to send cash to loved ones in other countries with upfront fees and peace of mind. You can opt to send funds directly to their bank account or mobile wallet, allow for a cash pick up, or, in some cases, even opt for home delivery.
With Remitly, you can initiate transfers through the mobile app or by signing up online. Fees depend on how you fund the transfer, which country the recipient is in, how much you’re sending, the speed of the transfer, and how you want your recipient to receive the funds. Using a debit or credit card is the lowest-cost option in most cases, with economy fees as low as $1.99 and express fees starting at just $2.99.
Best for mobile transfers: Venmo
- Free to use.
- Allows for payments to friends/family or businesses (with purchase protection).
- One of the most popular payment apps in the world.
- Funds aren’t immediately available in your bank account.
- Fees are charged for Instant Transfer.
- No option to receive cash.
Released in 2009, Venmo is a popular subsidiary of the fintech giant, PayPal. Venmo was originally touted as a great way to send funds to friends, especially when it came to things like splitting the dinner bill or sharing expenses with roommates. Venmo’s mobile app has since gained around 90 million users, or about a third of U.S. adults. It quickly became one of the most popular payment apps in the world.
With Venmo, users can connect a savings account, checking account, or even a credit card for funding purposes. They can use these connected accounts to send money to friends, split bills, send gifts, or pay businesses for online or in-person purchases.
Any received funds can be transferred to the bank account of your choosing in one to three business days. Want your cash faster? Instant Transfer gives you access to your cash within just minutes for a fee of 1.5% (minimum of $0.25 and maximum of $15).
Venmo also offers a connected credit card, allowing users to pay for purchases and earn up to 3% cash back. You can even purchase and manage a cryptocurrency wallet through the Venmo app. And if you pay for goods and services with Venmo, your eligible purchase is protected if something goes wrong.
Venmo is free to download and use. There are fees for expedited withdrawals to a bank account, as well as a 3% fee if you send money to someone else using a connected credit card account (linked bank account payments have no fees). Businesses also pay a 1.9% fee plus $0.10 of any received payments over a dollar.
Best for instant transfers between banks: Zelle
- Funds are deposited into the connected bank account instantly.
- No fees for either user.
- Enrollment is secure and typically done through your bank’s mobile app or online platform.
- Transfers only allowed between enrolled users.
- Not available through all financial institutions.
- Connected account is the only funding option (no sending funds from a credit card, etc.).
Zelle is a money transfer platform that connects with your U.S.-based bank or credit union accounts. With Zelle, you can instantly move money from one enrolled bank account to the next, whether you’re sending funds to a loved one or paying for something you bought on Facebook Marketplace.
Rather than these funds landing in a middleman platform and then needing to be withdrawn to another bank account, Zelle allows you to make transfers that instantly withdraw from one bank account and deposit into the next. In most cases, this means that the funds are available for use right away.
In order to use Zelle, both users must enroll through the Zelle mobile app or their bank’s online banking platform. A U.S. checking or savings account is required to enroll. There is no fee to use Zelle’s services, and it’s available through more than 1,700 financial institutions.
Zelle isn’t a payment platform, so you can’t use it to make online purchases through a merchant’s website. You also won’t be offered any purchase protection if you pay a seller directly, and there is no option for disputing a transfer once it’s been sent. Be sure to send Zelle payments only to individuals you know and/or trust.
Best for Sending Cash: Western Union
- Available in more than 200 countries and nearly all currencies.
- Transfers can be initiated online, via mobile app, or in-store.
- Recipients can receive transfers in cash, if desired.
- Domestic and international transfers are fee-based.
- Funds transfers may take multiple days to complete.
There are many money transfer apps and platforms that make it easy to send funds from one bank account to another. But what if you want to send money to someone who doesn’t have a bank account, or you need to find a way to safely send cash either domestically or internationally?
Western Union has been around since 1851 and began offering money transfers as early as 1871. While you could originally send funds only between New York, Chicago, and Boston, Western Union now provides money transfer services in more than 200 countries.
With the Western Union app, you can use your bank account, credit card, or debit card to send money to others, or you can deposit cash at an in-store location. The recipient can then receive their funds on the other end in a few different ways, including picking up cash at an agent location near them.
The fees for sending funds through Western Union vary depending on where you’re sending money from, where the recipient is located, how you’re funding the transfer, how much you’re sending, and how the recipient will receive the funds. It takes anywhere from a few minutes to multiple business days before the funds are available.
Best alternative to apps to transfer money
Not sure if you’re comfortable with a mobile money transfer app? Here are two other options to consider.
If you run your own company, Lili can help you manage your business checking and send or receive funds via seamless ACH transfer. This fintech charges no hidden fees, has no overdraft charges, and sets no minimum balance or deposit requirements to open or maintain an account.
If you need to send money to others, you have the option of standard or express ACH through connected payment apps. When it comes to receiving money, your Lili account can accept ACH transfers as well as fee-free domestic wire transfers without limits. There are also various accounting features and software that make it easier to manage your business’ bookkeeping along the way.
If you are an Apple user looking to send cash to other Apple users, Apple Cash is another option to consider. With Apple Cash, you can send, receive, or request money from others in the Apple family with no fees.
Transfers can be funded with a connected debit or credit card, bank account, prepaid card, or an existing Apple Cash balance. You can send money through iMessage or by tapping the Apple Cash option in your device’s mobile wallet. The recipient then needs to accept the money once their notification arrives, at which time the funds will transfer.
TIME Stamp: Match the money transfer app to your needs and recipients
Whether you’re looking to pay your babysitter, make an online purchase, or send cash to your college student who’s studying abroad, there are many different apps and mobile platforms you can use to transfer money or facilitate a payment. Some of these are standalone apps, while others are easily integrated with some of the best banks and financial institutions.
Some of these apps offer free money transfers to family and friends while also providing you with certain purchase protections when you buy from a merchant. Others are designed to help you send cash across the world safely and affordably.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How do money transfer apps work?
Money transfer apps work by sending a digital payment, ACH transfer, or domestic or international wire from a sender (who funds the transaction) to a recipient. Depending on the app, these funds might be automatically deposited into a bank account, readily spent using a connected debit card, available for cash withdrawal, or can be transferred to another linked bank account.
In some cases, funds can be sent by depositing cash at an in-person location, and can even be picked up in the form of cash by the recipient. If funds are sent from one eligible country to another, these apps will also facilitate currency conversion from sender to recipient.
How much do money transfer apps cost?
Many money transfer apps are available free of charge, especially if you are sending cash domestically or to friends and family. Others charge fees on the merchant side if you use the app to make a purchase for goods or services.
There may be fees involved if you opt to transfer money through an app using a credit card, need an expedited transaction, or if the cash needs to change currencies. These fees can vary from a dollar or two up to hundreds of dollars, depending on how much you want to send and how you plan to fund the transaction.
Are money transfer apps safe?
Most money transfer apps are financial technology companies (fintech) with highly encrypted platforms to keep your money and information as safe as possible. Most of these companies are licensed and regulated by agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Even still, it’s important to send money only to people you know and trust, as there are very few (if any) protections available once your funds have been sent.
How long does it take to transfer money with an app?
Many apps allow you to send funds to others instantly. Depending on the platform, these funds may need to be transferred out to a connected bank account before they can be spent, or they may be immediately available in the account of your choosing.
Other platforms, especially those facilitating international transfers, may take minutes or even days before the funds are available.
Cash App vs. PayPal—which is better?
Cash App is a great choice if you want to send money to others through an app without fees, while also having access to a connected debit card and even the option to pay in cryptocurrency. Paypal may be the better choice, however, if you’re buying goods or services and want purchase protection, or completing an online transaction.
Remitly vs. MoneyGram—which is better?
Both Remitly and MoneyGram offer international money transfers with currency conversion and multiple funding options. With both companies, fees are noted upfront and you can track your money transfer every step of the way. In many cases, MoneyGram money transfers may be available in as soon as a few minutes, while Remitly offers home delivery services for money transfers, simplifying the entire process for your recipient.
The Revolut USA Prepaid Visa® and Prepaid Mastercard® are issued by Metropolitan Commercial Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. for Visa cards, and Mastercard International for Mastercard cards, and may be used everywhere Visa or Mastercard are accepted. Banking services are provided by Metropolitan Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, and are subject to the terms of a Cardholder Agreement. “Metropolitan Commercial Bank” and “Metropolitan” are registered trademarks of Metropolitan Commercial Bank © 2014.
A note from Metropolitan Commercial Bank: Funds in your Revolut Prepaid Card Account are held at an FDIC insured institution. Your funds will be held at or transferred to Metropolitan Commercial Bank, an FDIC-insured institution. While there, your funds are insured up to $250,000 by the FDIC in the event Metropolitan Commercial Bank fails if specific deposit insurance requirements are met and your card is registered. See fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/prepaid.html for details. FDIC insurance does not protect your funds in the event of Revolut’s failure or from the risk of theft or fraud.